Spokane Journal of Business

Ciena Corp. to close its Spokane Valley office this fall

Tech company employs 65 people here; number of layoffs yet to be decided

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Ciena Corp., a Maryland-based global supplier of telecommunications networking equipment, software, and services, plans to close its Spokane Valley office this fall.

Jamie Moody, a Hanover, Md.-based spokeswoman for Ciena, says the decision to close its operations at 12730 Mirabeau Parkway by the end of October is a cost-saving measure.

“This decision was about driving our long-term engineering efficiency,” says Moody. “We’ll be consolidating the work at that location, which will hopefully result in cost savings for the company.”

Moody says the company doesn’t yet know how many of Ciena’s 65 Spokane Valley employees will lose their jobs as a result of the consolidation, although she did say Ciena plans to allow some of them to continue working remotely.

“Some employees will be offered the option of continuing to work in remote positions,” she says. “We realize this is difficult news, and we’re working with all of those affected to assist them in their transitions.”

Founded in 1992, Ciena came to Spokane in 2008 when it acquired World Wide Packets Inc., the Spokane Valley-based company founded by computer networking guru Bernard Daines, in a transaction valued at $296 million.

Doug Tweedy, the Spokane-based regional economist for the Washington state Employment Security Department, says the loss of tech jobs due to Ciena’s closure likely will have some negative impact on the local economy, though not necessarily a profound one.

“The loss of a tech company is concerning, but it’s also partly due to the volatile nature of that field,” he says. “As companies move to keep up with the latest tech advances, they’re often driven to consolidate in order to improve efficiency, which sometimes means fewer people.”

Despite the potential loss of high paying tech jobs due to the Ciena closure, Tweedy maintains the technology and IT sector has grown steadily here in the last three years, gaining about 100 jobs a year.

“I think Spokane is still well positioned for tech jobs in the future,” he says. “The tech companies we have here are small, employing about 50 people or less, but most of them are growing. It’s a small industry right now at about 1,200 jobs, but the total number of tech jobs continues to increase, and there are still new companies coming in to create more.”

Steve Simmons, a professor of computer science at Eastern Washington University, says Ciena’s plans to close its Spokane Valley site were mentioned last week at the July meeting of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers executive committee, prompting concern from the organization’s members as well as EWU staff.

“We’re concerned both for Eastern alumni in computer science and electrical engineering programs that now work at that Ciena location, as well as the potential implications its closure will have for future engineering careers in our area,” Simmons says. “The recession resulted in the loss of a lot of tech jobs here, and while we’ve recovered from that and begun building some new industry here, the loss of potentially 40-45 jobs is still a blow to that sector.”

LeAnn Bjerken
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Reporter LeAnn Bjerken is the most recent addition to the Journal's news team. A poet, cat lover and antique enthusiast, LeAnn is also an Eastern Washington University alum.

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